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March 25, 2013

House candidates prepare for District 11 runoff

Polls will open at 7 a.m. Tuesday

The Republican nominee for the District 11 seat of the Alabama House of Representatives will be decided Tuesday in a runoff election between Danny Alldredge and Randall Shedd.

Polls will open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 7 p.m. Probate Judge Tammy Brown said election returns will be provided in  the third floor courtroom of the Cullman County Courthouse. Both candidates said they expect to be present during the returns.

District 11 covers portions of Cullman, Blount and Morgan counties, but its most populous area lies in Cullman County. The turnout reflected that fact Tuesday, with Cullman County voters casting 3,034 ballots, followed by Blount County (493 ballots) and Morgan County (291 ballots).

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley called the special election cycle to fill the House seat vacated by longtime Republican representative Jeremy Oden, who left the legislature last November to accept an appointment to the state Public Service Commission.

Despite taking a majority vote in Cullman County — as well as finishing 743 total votes ahead of Alldredge, Shedd wasn’t able to end the three-county race with an overall majority.

In Alabama elections with more than two candidates, a runoff is necessary when no candidate is able to earn 50 percent — plus a single extra vote — of the total votes cast.

In Cullman County, Shedd took 52.21 percent of the vote (1,584 votes), followed by Alldredge with 25.68 percent (779 votes), Lydia Haynes with 16.38 percent (497 votes) and Mike Graves with 5.74 percent (174 votes).

Shedd also eked out a narrow win in Morgan County, finishing with 93 votes. Graves came in second with 77 votes, followed by Haynes (64 votes) and Alldredge (57 votes).

In Blount County, Alldredge outgained Shedd 221 votes to 123.

With the general election now set for May 7, the newly-elected representative will enjoy only two weeks in office before the regular session ends on May 20. Democrat Kelly Evans was unopposed in her party.

Both Shedd and Alldredge said the turnout for Tuesday’s runoff is important to the outcome of the race. The runoff is being held during Spring Break week.

Nonetheless, Shedd said he is moving forward with his message to bring an effective history of leadership to the post. A former county commissioner, mayor and director of the Commission on Aging, Shedd said he is stressing his experience and record of accomplishing goals.

“I am a projects person. We have a lot of worthwhile projects under way in this district and I want to make sure we stay focused on these and see them through. One of the most important is the Duck River project, and while it is approved,  we want to make sure it doesn’t get held up. You have to stay focused on your projects and be certain that everything is in order for a timely completion,” Shedd said.

Shedd said he also wants to be a force to bring lawmakers and residents together on issues that have potential for the district.

“I know a lot of people go to Montgomery with good intentions, but I want to avoid political sideshows and the type of environment we see in Washington. Our district and the state have too much potential to be sidetracked by those things,” Shedd said.

Alldredge, a former educator and school board member, said he values the need to pass budgets early in the legislative session for the benefit of schools and other agencies that depend on available dollars for effective planning and management.

“I’m a proponent of getting the budgets passed in a timely manner, and I don’t favor putting the education budget together with the General Fund,” Alldredge said. “I think education is part of our Christian principles. If we do a good job in the schools for our children, we will reduce the prison problem in this state. It’s a shame to say, but we spend more per inmate than we do per student.”

Alldredge said the campaign trail has been a rewarding experience.

“I don’t have clue how it will turn out. I haven’t see any polls to indicate that, but I know that the turnout is important for everyone,” Alldredge said. “I’ve been sticking to the same principles, my conservative and Christian values. Randall has, too. I have nothing negative to say in this race. This is a great experience. I also want to say that my wife and I have financed much of this campaign, along with some support from a few individuals. But I haven’t accepted money from any of the special interest groups, and I don’t intend to.”

David Palmer may be contacted dpalmer@cullmantimes.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 213.

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